One NARP’s (unfinished) journey to physical fitness


Today at the gym there was a woman rowing next to me who was missing a hand.

I didn’t even notice until forty minutes in, she flung herself off the machine when the band holding her amputated arm in place came off and her arm slipped off the rowing handle.

This woman was also approximately 70 years old and the most impressive person I have ever seen. She was doing push ups between rowing intervals (which I realize now must have been one-armed push-ups. Wow.)

Totally unrelated to what I wanted to say, which was: I was rick-rolled™️ into joining a gym for $50/month.

What I could have bought with that fifty dollars:

  • 4 meals at Panera or like 6 or 7 meals at Five Guys
  • a pair of really nice Skechers
  • a ton of chocolate-covered strawberries
  • several really nice donuts (as suggested by one Greg)
  • 8-9 days’ worth of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or like 4 days’ worth at Starbucks
  • a Dartmouth Coach ticket (round-trip)
  • some really nice pens from Amazon
  • 4 tickets to see 4 different screenings of The Last Jedi so I could see that movie a total of six times
  • so many other things

“Fifty dollars is nothing, Emma. Why are you so bitter?”

First of all, I’m always bitter. (“I’m like an 80-year-old man stuck in a millennial’s body!” — me, when asked today if I feel old.) Also, fifty dollars is indeed a lot if you have the cash income of a person who gets paid minimum wage for an inconsistent part-time job. Oh, wait.

But specifically, I didn’t want to spend money on a new gym because:

  1. I’m afraid I’ll end up never going and wasting $50 like I did with my last gym membership at Anytime Fitness, which was true to its name and open 24/7 and slightly sketchy after like 10pm (but honestly what place isn’t sketchy after 10pm?), and to which I stopped going right before Christmas.
  2. I don’t want to feel beholden to myself and actually try to get in shape because I’m lazy and apathetic and I kind of like how none of my pants fit me anymore. It makes me feel alive.

Alas, it’s too late! I bought the membership, I’m taking the ride.

What to expect from this new gym:

I’d love to say that this is the moment I turn over a new leaf and finally enjoy a sustained period of self-care, health, and normal amounts of bread-consumption, but mathematically that’s just not realistic. My level of fitness graphed over the last 24 months looks like a sine wave. We haven’t reached the max point of the wave yet, but I predict that in a month or so I’ll slowly stop going to the gym and start taking naps instead, until I finally revert to the state of being that I’m currently in, which is sleeping a lot and eating bread at every meal.

A few of my best moments as a NARP (non-athletic regular person, for those of you who have never had to make the distinction between D1 athletes and the rest of the population):

  • over the summer I was running in Tuscany and lost all feeling in my feet and someone actually made me think that I might have diabetes (I definitely don’t)
  • last year I tried squatting, which ended with me straining my left hip, which sounds completely fake and I still don’t understand how it happened and now I’m afraid to even look at a barbell
  • this past fall I was working out at school and they closed the gym with me still inside, so the next time I went I tried to confirm what time the gym closed and the guy working just looked at me like I was crazy. Sad!

Some tips for other NARPs who feel like they need to start working out, either because it’s the beginning of the new year or their feelings of self-disgust have finally peaked:

  • don’t let other people intimidate you — instead, let the old woman with the one hand inspire you to row faster and do more push-ups.
  • make an inspirational playlist to listen to so you can’t hear the gym speakers play “Closing Time” around 5pm every day
  • find a friend who hates going to the gym too, and force each other to workout so that you can feel like you’re in hell together

I’d also like to point out that you don’t have to change your entire lifestyle just because you’ve started working out. I highly recommend eating bread, laying in bed, and complaining about how sore your legs are from three days’ worth of exercise to anyone who will listen.

tl;dr: go to the gym, even if you hate it, because you WILL feel better about yourself for even a brief period of time. 

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